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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Sky's enchanting show
Lights Kinnunen
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

Auroral displays seen from high northern latitudes during the past week have been among the most beautiful and enchanting ever seen by experienced skywatchers.

The remarkable pictures on this page of the dancing multi-coloured lights were taken by Juha Kinnunen of Finland. He told BBC News Online how he came to capture the images.

Lights Kinnunen
"The display began on 23 September, a Sunday, at about 2200 local time. It lasted about 90 minutes. It wasn't the most spectacular I have ever seen, but it was certainly beautiful and inspiring," he said.

"Every aurora is an individual, and some of their beauty cannot be captured on film, but sometimes you can get an image that goes some way to showing their mystery and wonder.

"Noora, my daughter, and I had driven some 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of my home town, Jyvaskyla, which is itself some 270 km (167 miles) north of Helsinki. At first, it was cloudy and raining, but the Finnish Meteorological Office told me that I would eventually find a clear sky.

Lifetime fascination

"We drove a further 10 km (six miles) along minor roads through the wooded landscape. Finland is a very sparsely populated country, all lakes and trees - only very occasionally did we see a farm."

"From these latitudes, we get Northern Lights about 15% of the time. Travel further north, to Lappland, and you get them 75% of the time."

Watching it over the dark forests of central Finland, away from people and light pollution, was awesome

Juha Kinnunen
For Juha and Noora Kinnunen these drives into the country are a joy and part of a lifetime's fascination with the Northern Lights.

"It is something to do with the forces and masses involved, and the fact that the cause of these night time lights is a disturbance on the surface of the Sun. It's a great natural spectacle."

"That particular night's display was classified as an AG1. Earlier this year, I witnessed an AG3: much more colourful and with swifter movement across a larger section of the sky."

"But this one was remarkable in its shape and colour. Watching it over the dark forests of central Finland, away from people and light pollution, was awesome."

Lights Kinnunen

All images by Juha Kinnunen

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Auroral light show expected
02 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Light show set to continue
01 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Solar storms spark light show
30 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Giant sunspot erupts
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